North Korea may hold off on conducting a nuclear test until it feels the event will draw maximum global attention, Stars and Stripes reported.
Recent commercial satellite photographs of the North's Punggye-ri nuclear test site reveal a great deal of activity that is likely related to preparations for anther underground atomic explosion, experts say. While some in South Korea predicted that Pyongyang would choose to detonate its fourth device during U.S. President Obama's visit to Seoul last weekend, that never happened.
Ohm Tae-am, an analyst with the Korea Institute for Defense Analyses, told the newspaper on Thursday that the North might be delaying its test because other international events are attracting so much attention.
The April 16 sinking of a ferry filled with South Korean students has distracted Seoul, he said. "South Korea's interest in inter-Korean relations has been pushed aside, and because of that, North Korea is not likely to conduct its fourth nuclear test now," Ohm said.
Meanwhile, the "U.S. has its eyes on the Middle East and Ukraine right now," said the analyst.
The North Korean foreign ministry on Tuesday said there was "no statute of limitations" for when Pyongyang might carry out its repeatedly threatened "new" kind of atomic demonstration.
The expert website 38 North in a Wednesday analysis of satellite images taken the day prior concluded a "high level of activity" continues to be seen at the test site.
"If North Korea follows previous test practices, a continued high level of activity indicates that a nuclear test is not yet imminent," reads the brief by image expert Jack Liu. "Before the February 2013 detonation, all equipment, vehicles and personnel were withdrawn immediately before the blast."
Liu said he could not see signs that any of the tunnels at the test site had been closed off, which is typically one of the final steps before a nuclear blast takes place.
This article was published in Global Security Newswire, which is produced independently by National Journal Group under contract with the Nuclear Threat Initiative. NTI is a nonprofit, nonpartisan group working to reduce global threats from nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons.